PORT ANGELES — The city will eliminate the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center’s director position at the end of the year, according to city Parks and Recreation director Corey Delikat.
Director Robin Anderson, who Delikat said last week is at the top end of the salary range — earning $66,000 annually — will depart after three years in the position.
“I’ve got until Jan. 1,” Anderson said, adding that she’s “actively looking for work.”
The city will also phase out its $27,500 annual contribution to the fine arts center’s budget, Delikat said. This will happen over three years, starting in 2016.
Anderson succeeded longtime director and curator Jake Seniuk at the fine arts center, which will mark its 30th anniversary next year.
The gallery and surrounding Webster’s Woods art park at 1203 E. Lauridsen Blvd. were bequeathed to the city of Port Angeles by Esther Webster, an artist and the wife of Charles Webster, publisher of Peninsula Daily News predecessor the Port Angeles Evening News.
The city has managed it since, though the fine arts center maintains its own budget with fundraisers, donations, art sales and money from the Webster trust.
Delikat said he was “like a middle man” handling the center’s funds.
Back in March, the Port Angeles City Council held a priority-setting session in which members decided its fine arts center funding is a non-essential cost, said Mayor Dan Di Guilio.
With police and fire funding considered indispensable, the art museum and park fell to “the bottom of the list,” he added.
Meantime, Port Angeles Fine Arts Center foundation president Phillis Olson said the center will roll with the changes.
Its annual budget is about $130,000, Olson said; most of that comes from the Webster trust and from the center’s own fundraising efforts.
“We will be applying for numerous grants starting next year,” she said, adding that she looks forward to being independent from the city.
“With financial reorganization, we will do very well,” said Olson.
The foundation president believes that this place could do and be even more than it has been over the past three decades.
To move through the transition, board member Anne Dalton said an ad hoc committee has been set up.
“There are many things we could do … we could have some kind of administrator,” she said.
“We could have an interim director. At this point, we don’t know. We need to meet.”
No date is set for such a meeting, said Olson.
Anderson and the fine arts center’s board have been busy, she said, planning for Paint the Peninsula, a plein air painting festival and show Sept. 7-13, and hosting another major happening: two weekends of Shakespeare in Webster’s Woods.
“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” opened last Friday night in the 5-acre art park’s meadow.
The play, directed by Anna Andersen and featuring a cast of more than 25 children, teens and adults, will have its final performances at 5 p.m. this Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 28-30.
Admission is free, while donations — $10 is suggested — are welcome.
As for Paint the Peninsula, Dalton said Anderson is stepping away from it.
Dalton is taking the reins of the event, which will draw artists from across and beyond the Olympic Peninsula.
They first will fan out across the area, from Olympic National Park to the West End; then they will display and sell their paintings at the fine arts center for six days straight.
Then comes the Sept. 13 Panache! Festival of Colors: more live art-making, awards for the best paintings and drawings, a barbecue and other activities in Webster’s Woods.
Olson spoke at last Friday’s dedication of a new sculpture at the entrance to the woods: “Spirit,” by California artist James T. Hubbell, was donated to the arts center by longtime Port Angeles resident and Story People of Clallam County founder Josephine Pedersen.
In her remarks, Olson said she hopes to work with the center’s volunteers — of which there are more than 100 — to spruce up Webster’s Woods and spread the word about its existence.
“We don’t want to be the art center on the hill that’s looking down on everybody,” she added in an interview.
“We need to freshen ourselves.”
Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5062, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.